Michelle Bright has never known the pain of losing a child but she does have sympathy.
“It kind of hit home, my youngest son was born premature and was in an ICU for a month,” said Bright, founder of the nonprofit Forever Angel Gowns.
Her preemie is 17 now, and during his childhood, Bright was looking for a way to help parents who don’t get to see their children grow old.
“I used to make all my kids clothes growing up before they got old enough to hate it,” Bright said.
Inspired by a post she saw online, Bright dusted off her sewing machine. For the past 18 months, she’s worked to transform donated wedding dresses into gowns for young children who have passed away.
Word started to spread and then came the volunteers.
“I lost a baby myself many, many years ago and there was nothing like this – it’s gratifying knowing that you’re helping,” said Kathy Jensen, who volunteers with her sister Kim Winkle.
“I think that a wedding dress is one of the most sentimental things a woman can have,” Winkle said.
To date, they’ve turned 75 dresses into more than 150 tiny gowns. The dresses keeping coming and so do the notes.
“That gives me chills to my core,” said Winkle, recalling a note they’d recently received.
The note was from a women who had donated her wedding dress. A dress she said she wore shortly after WWII.
“Treat this dress with the love it deserves,” Winkle read from the letter.
As their supply thins, the group is hoping for more donations and more volunteers.
“People are always sending us messages like ‘What you all are doing is such a blessing.’ But they don’t realize that we can’t do it without them,” Bright said.
So many dresses that started with a love story will continue their legacy of forever love.